October 11th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - After running third and fourth in the first practice session, Red Bull turned the tables on Mercedes in Free Practice 2 by setting the pace, with Sebastian Vettel on top ahead of Mark Webber. Nico Rosberg set the third fastest time in the leading Mercedes.
Jules Bianchi did not take part in FP2 due to the damage done to his Marussia when he crashed during FP1. He also hurt his elbow in the crash, but reported that it was fine shortly afterward.
For Pastor Maldonado, the session ended almost before it began. The Williams driver had completed just 6 laps before he ended up with the nose of his car in the barrier at the second Degner corner, the same place where Jules Bianchi and Giedo van der Garde crashed during FP1. It didn't look like a particularly large impact and Maldonado seemed unhurt when he climbed out of his car.
Sergio Perez was next in the wall, and his crash was a big one. He lost the back end of his McLaren on the entry to the Spoon curve and clouted the barrier hard with the right hand side of both axles of his car. Replays suggested that he might have had a wheel on the grass under braking, which would have caused a loss of grip at the back end of the car. After the crash he sat in the car for a while, but told McLaren over the radio that he was OK.
Kimi Raikkonen was the third driver to have a short FP2 session. Raikkonen lost the back end of his Lotus at the Dunlop curve and went backwards into the gravel. Fortunately there was enough of a gravel trap to slow the car down, which prevented Raikkonen from reaching the wall. He kept the engine running, and tried to drive out of the gravel, but the car was well and truly stuck and that was the end of Raikkonen's FP2 with just over half an hour to go in the session.
The challenging Suzuka circuit caught out quite a few drivers during FP2. Aside from Malonado, Perez and Raikkonen, a few drivers ran off the track and Fernando Alonso had a spin in the first Degner corner, from which he recovered without too much trouble. It's clear that the drivers are pushing hard to find maximum performance around the popular Suzuka track.
While Red Bull may have been quicker than Mercedes during FP2, the lap times tell an interesting story. Vettel's fastest lap time was just a third of a second faster than Hamilton went in FP1, and Vettel was on medium tyres in FP2 whereas Hamilton ran hard tyres in FP1. Despite using the option tyres, Lewis Hamilton went three tenths slower than his leading time from the morning session.
It could be that track conditions were not slower in the second session, but it could also be that Hamilton's quick laps on the medium tyre were compromised during FP2. Alternatively, Mercedes could have been running higher fuel than Red Bull. Whatever the reason, it does not look like the lap times are representative of the running order, which should become more clear after FP3 and will certainly become clear after qualfiying tomorrow.
Hamilton was not the only driver to seem out of position in the FP2 results. Fernando Alonso was four tenths slower than Felipe Massa for Ferrari and was only 10th fastest, which is again not representative of the true pace of the Ferrari. We will have a better idea of Alonso's pace after FP3 and qualfiying.
Full results from FP2:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:33.852||35|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:34.020||0.168||35|
|14||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:35.275||1.423||35|
|15||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:35.341||1.489||25|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:37.905||4.053||36|